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Home · Property Management · Latest News : Is It Time to Rethink Who Pays for Bedbug Treatments?
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no pestsLandlords usually get stuck paying for pest extermination in rental properties.

That’s because landlords have to provide habitable premises, and that means units free from bug infestations.

But with a resurgence of bedbugs plaguing both tenants and landlords alike, is it time to rethink who pays for pest control?

A property management firm in the Dallas area thinks so.

The company has been in the news after a tenant complained to a local station about finding bedbugs in her furniture–and then being charged for the treatments.

According to the report, charging the tenant for bedbug control is standard practice at this apartment complex.  A spokesperson for the property managers explained the policy:  allow the tenant an opportunity to inspect the vacant unit and search for bugs.  If the tenant moves in and finds bugs at a later time, the company assumes it was the tenant who brought the bedbugs into the property.  The company handles the pest control, but charges the tenant for treatment.

The company also has tenants sign a lease addendum outlining the policy.

Unlike other pests, bedbugs remain dormant for many months at a time.  They can hide in very small spaces.  They also crawl from one unit to the next fairly easily, and are night owls.  That makes it difficult to determine conclusively whether the bugs are present at any given time.

What do you think?  Should landlords charge tenants for bedbug treatments? Do you have a bedbug addendum in your lease?

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  • Gary Carlson

    Charging for bedbugs isn’t an easy issue. The bottom line is that landlords must make a profit. Thus, rental rates will be set based upon the need to pay expenses and earn a return upon investment.

    If the landlord bears the expense for bedbug treatment, then the cost will actually be passed through to all tenants. On the other hand, a single tenant might be charged for actions of the previous occupant.

    Due to the impossible nature of tracking down the responsible party(ies), I, as a landlord, would provide the treatment and be done with it – and at the same time avoid any possible litigation stemming from an infestation. Prompt treatment might also prevent a spread of the pest throughout an entire building. Charge it up to overall maintenance, deduct the cost, adjust rent appropriately and be done with it.

  • All our tenants pay for their own pest control. We have not (cross our fingers) had a problem with bed bugs as of yet, but if the case arises we’ll be prepared. Some tenants balk at it, but its equal across the board.

  • Christine LaMarca

    We have incorporated our pest control policies into our house rules. At move-in we make it perfectly clear that Bed Bug infestations are investigated and the apartment where they are found to be originating will pay for the extermination(s). The longer a resident waits to report an infestation, the more likely the surrounding units may be infested. This encourages early reporting of problems and increases the likelihood that we can limit the infestation to one apartment.

    We schedule the appointment with the exterminator to inspect where the initial infestation was found and the surrounding apartments. Then the pest control company provides the resident with preparation instructions and an appointment to return for treatment.

    We follow up by writing a letter to the resident explaining the pest control findings, the estimate cost for effective treatment, the dates that the work is scheduled and a proposed payment schedule. There is a lot of language in the letter that discusses how Bed Bugs are localized creatures and that careful inspection of furnishings, clothing & luggage can prevent “hitchhikers” from becoming your roommates.

    I disagree that the bed bugs could potentially be lying dormant in a vacant apartment. Bed bugs require human blood to survive. From what I have read, without regular feedings, they die fairly quickly. The source apartment is considered the financially responsible party, not the landlord. The landlord will pay for the treatment and be reimbursed by the responsible party.

    We have effectively treated 2 apartments and we have successfully recovered all associated expense (other than our time). To me the resident is the only line of defense against infestation. They have to be vigilant and the only way to keep them vigilant is let them have some skin in the game – financially speaking.

  • Theresa

    Wrong, Christine. Bed bugs can nearly a year without feeding! This is one reason why they are so difficult to eradicate…one tenant can leave and the next tenant may find the surprise months down the road.

    Landlords need to be responsible for their properties as well as negligent tenants; it’s terrible that respectable and responsible tenants often suffer (costs and otherwise) because of lazy, greedy landlords and neglient neighbors.

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